COVER STORY – ALL SAINTS
“Saints alive!” Maybe you’ve heard the expression; it’s an interjection sometimes used by folks to express astonishment over something extraordinary they have just witnessed. When, for example, they see a beautiful sunset shimmering on a lake, they may be moved to exclaim, “Saints alive! How awesome is the handiwork of our Creator!”
Similarly, there are Bible teachings which are breathtaking for their beauty and may evoke a sense of wonderment in our hearts. I have in mind the teaching that when the Holy Spirit leads a person to anchor his hopes for this life and the next in his Savior Jesus, He transforms him from being a sinner into a saint.
There’s a day coming up on the calendar on which this astonishing truth of the Bible is highlighted in the Christian Church. It is called “All Saints’ Day.” It falls each year on November first. The origin of this festival can be traced back to the third century. Early on it was observed as a day on which Christians who were martyred for their faith were especiallly remembered, with thanksgiving to God. Later All Saints’ Day came to be celebrated as a festival on which all who died believing in Jesus were thankfully remembered.
All Saints’ Day remains on the church calendar today for good reason. It provides an opportunity for us to especiallly remember all the dear ones of our lives (and those of the distant past) whom the Lord graciously preserved in faith during their earthly sojourn and brought safely to His side in heaven. The All Saints’ festival can also serve the purpose of helping us remember what a saint is, especially in a world that entertains many erroneous ideas about this.
Just what is a saint, according
to the Bible?
As noted above, it is a person whose record of transgressions against God’s Law has been blotted out from His sight for the sake of the Savior in whom he trusts. Among the Bible verses that teach this are “The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) “(God) made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) “Bless the Lord, O my soul . . . Who forgives all your iniquities.”
Why is every Christian thrilled to have the status of sainthood?
The answer should be obvious. When you possess God’s gift of forgiveness through Jesus, you also possess His gift of unending life. You enjoy a loving relationship with your Lord that won’t ever be severed, not even by physical death.
What comfort this affords us when the Lord calls dear ones out of this life! Though our hearts ache for our loss, we do not sorrow as those who have no hope. We know that a beloved husband, wife, father, mother, child, or friend, having fallen asleep in Jesus, is destined to rise again. With our resurrected, glorified bodies we will live forever with them in the new heavens and earth He will create, together with all saints of all times and places.
Small wonder the psalmist was moved to declare, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm 116:15). So can we.
For all the saints who from their labors rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,
Thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia!
Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;
Thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;
Thou, in the darkness drear, their one true light. Alleluia!
Oh, may Thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold,
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old
And win with them the victor’s crown
of gold! Alleluia! (LSB 677:1-3)
Thomas Schuetze is pastor of St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lakewood, Colorado.